DirecTV Now Ready, With Lots Of Plans

As advertised, AT&T on Monday announced the availability of its new DirecTV Now streaming service, beginning tomorrow. It ought to stir things up. 

As not advertised, the DirectTV Now pay tiers seem to be familiar in one way: They are really quite simple, but sound just about as complicated as what you might expect from a cable operator. 

The least expensive DirecTV Now package will cost $35 a month for 60 channels. That’s good and straight forward news. So to muck it up, AT&T burdened it with a name, as it did the other tiers.

The basic $35 entry point is the Live A Little package. And maybe it’s called that, especially now, because for a limited time (and AT&T doesn’t define that), you can get the Go Big package, with 100 channels, for the same low, low $35 Live A Little price.

At some unspecified point, Go Big will cost $60 a month to latecomers.

“This is a limited time offer,” AT&T literature explains. “Customers who sign up for this offer will continue to enjoy this special price for as long as you keep the package, subject only to future reasonable programming price increases applicable to all packages.”

Snark aside, DirecTV Now is mobile-first, but watchable everywhere. It seems like a possible cable killer, especially because it carries over to mobile or tablet so you can continue to watch, or view it on AppleTV and Amazon Fire or Chromecast and soon on Roku. It has limitations, but for most viewers, most of the time, it seems like a deal.

Regular old DirecTV can't get some customers--possibly into the millions--because of restrictions placed on those satellite dishes on many apartment and office buildings, or just because of bad exposure, or bad credit. DirecTV Now solves all of that, even the bum credit part. (You pay via credit card, by month, and there's no expensive dish to install or retrieve.)

What you won’t get on DirecTV Now is DVR capability (coming in 2017, according to published reports) or CBS, though DirecTV is "actively" pursuing that. Right now, you’ll have to subscribe to CBS All Access to get that. 

But many markets will be able to get ABC, NBC, Telemundo and Fox stations (or a combination) on the $35 tier. DirecTV Now is working to shore up that network TV feature. That's one tough nut to crack for OTT services; SlingTV and Playstation VUE have had the same problem.

But HBO is just $5 a month, and Brad Bentley, EVP of marketing, promised a full boat of AT&T originals and "innovative data-driven advertising." No doubt. DirecTV Now gives AT&T access to you on every device. There's also a thing called FreeView which will be available on all devices and doesn't cost anything, but, Bentley said, will present some originals and other material.

MediaPost’s Thom Forbes outlines the packages and other info here.

While we’re at it, let’s explain the other tiers and here's where things get cable-like:  There’s the Just Right package (80 channels, $50); the previously mentioned Go Big (100 channels, $60)  and the macho (and sportier) package, called Gotta Have It ($70 for 120 channels). To review: Live A Little, Just Right, Go Big and Gotta Have It.

Maybe about here we should explain that prior to yesterday’s announcement and press event, the assumption was that DirecTV Now would offer 100 channels for $35 as an ongoing thing, not a promotion in which Just a Little becomes a Big Deal, or whatever. 

I’m not even so bothered by that.

What does bug me is why DirecTV Now just couldn’t be as simple as its navigation tools, highlighted at the press event and consistent. They seemed--what's that big word for easy?--intuitive. What's wrong with Plan 1 and so on?  Taken all together, those price categories sound like the stuff of a “Who’s On Third?” routine.

Bentley says the mantra while building DirecTV Now was to keep it "stunningly simple," but those tiers sound like they've been named for simpletons. Not the same thing. (Rival Sling TV offers Sling Orange, Blue and Orange+Blue.)

I realize I'm ranting on a very small point. But DirecTV is aiming at disgruntled would-be cord cutters who have endured bundle gibberish for years. Man, they're like Trump voters. 

DirecTV Now announced lots of other nice bells and whistles. It will offer a free deal on Fullscreen, the SVOD channel it owns part of, for subscribers to its Mobility service, and then it mentioned  a new channel from Taylor Swift and its tie-in with Reese Witherspoon’s nice-based new “Hello Sunshine” channel.

And yes, there are  some promotions that will allow a new subscribers to get a free Apple TV, or a Amazon Fire stick, or Lenovo laptop or LeEco devices. 

No kitchen sink.

1 comment about "DirecTV Now Ready, With Lots Of Plans".
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  1. J S from Ideal Living Media, November 29, 2016 at 3:10 p.m.

    Very disappointing. Costs are way too high. Tiers are too complicated.

    Different system; same mindset.

    I'm not paying for an ad-hoc satellite network, just pennies worth of bandwidth. 

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